kids use MADI on their ipads
NMAD debuts MADI, state-of-the-art in-museum mobile technology
NMAD debuts MADI, state-of-the-art in-museum mobile technology 1024 576

Coinciding with the launch of the Berlin Wall exhibit, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) launched the Museum of American Diplomacy Eye, or MADI, an award winning in-gallery museum guide that uses image recognition on personal smartphones to scan artifacts as visitors explore galleries. The image recognition technology instantly unlocks exclusive interviews with diplomats, additional contextual historical content, and related artifacts in NMAD’s collection.

The inaugural launch of MADI offers nine additional experiences accompanying The Berlin Wall exhibit, including a biographical video featuring the signatories of the wall as well as historical footage to put the visitor in the shoes of those living at the time of the Cold War. In 2020, content for MADI will be expanded for the Diplomacy Is Our Mission exhibit to feature surprising facts about the diplomats from American history, as well as interviews with current U.S. diplomats who engage in diplomacy all over the world today. NMAD will also use MADI to test visitor experience, experiment with content, and examine analytics for wider use in the permanent museum. 

The NMAD collaborated with the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in conjunction with Linked by Air, to adapt their critically acclaimed technology for our exhibits. They are expanding this technology to other Smithsonians including National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Air and Space Museum, and National Museum of American Art. MADI will be the inaugural launch in this series.

Items from the Secretary's office donated to National museum of american diplomacy
Madam Secretary Artifacts in the National Museum of American Diplomacy Collection
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Madam Secretary Artifacts in the National Museum of American Diplomacy Collection

In 2019, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) was pleased to receive a donation of set and prop items from the beloved CBS television show Madam Secretary. CBS Television Studios, Revelations Entertainment, and the show’s creators Barbara Hall, Lori McCreary, and Morgan Freeman made this generous gift possible.

The donation includes iconic pieces from the title character Elizabeth McCord’s State Department office, including her desk, globe, costumes, and other props. These items will become a part of the museum’s permanent collection and will be showcased in an upcoming exhibit. The items from the show will become a valuable entry point to our museum for visitors who have only understood the work of American diplomacy through the television show.

NMAD Director Mary Kane notes, “Madam Secretary has brought to life the important and tireless work of dedicated American diplomats who represent our nation around the world and in Washington, DC. We are honored to recognize this successful show by including artifacts from the production as part of our permanent collection. We are grateful to CBS Television Studios and Revelations Entertainment for this generous donation. These items will become a focal point of our popular culture exhibit, giving us a compelling and dynamic way to engage our audience who may have been introduced to the work and language of diplomacy through this television show.”

Group photo with Director and Cal Ripken in the Lower Level
Sports Diplomacy Comes to Life with U.S. Sports Envoy Cal Ripken, Jr.
Sports Diplomacy Comes to Life with U.S. Sports Envoy Cal Ripken, Jr. 1024 496

On September 18, 2019 the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) partnered with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to host a conversation with Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. and Foreign Service Officer Joel Ehrendriech on the power of baseball to promote mutual understanding.

NMAD Director Mary Kane and ECA Assistant Secretary Marie Royce opened the event by welcoming Ripken and describing ECA’s use of sports diplomacy to build bridges between Americans and people around the world at the grassroots level. Kane then moderated a special dialogue with Ripken and Ehrendriech highlighting powerful impact of sports diplomacy at home and abroad.

Cal Ripken's jersey and bat, signed

Mr. Ripken’s signed jersey and bat illustrate the goodwill that is generated through sports diplomacy.This goodwill can pave the way for efforts in finding common ground in other areas of nationalinterest. Gift of Cal Ripkin, Jr., to the National Museum of American Diplomacy

Ripken shared his experiences as a Sports Diplomacy Envoy in China, Nicaragua, Japan, and the Czech Republic. He told the over 150 guests how baseball serves as an “icebreaker” for him to “connect directly with kids.” Not only does he lead baseball drills and clinics, Ripken shows young people how the skills and teamwork needed on the field apply to school and life off of the field. Ripken underscored that “sports take down walls and barriers” to open up communication and connectivity regardless of one’s different walks of life.

Ehrendriech provided an on-the-ground perspective on how he has used baseball during his overseas assignments to connect with the country’s citizens and government officials. Notably, while stationed in Tokyo, Japan, Ehrendreich organized a baseball game between the American embassy and the Japanese parliament, played at the Tokyo Dome in March 2006. The U.S. team was managed by former Texas Rangers owner and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Tom Schieffer. The Japanese team was managed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, later to become Japan’s prime minister. The game ended with a diplomatic 15-15 tie. 

Ehrendriech donated a number of sports diplomacy artifacts to the museum which were on display at the event along with Ripken’s artifacts.

Flags of the US - American Polish exhibit
Poles and Americans: A Centennial of Friendship
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America played an important role in Poland’s regaining its independence following World War I. On January 8, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson, inspired by the Polish statesman and virtuoso Ignacy Jan Paderewski, announced his famous “Fourteen Points” before a joint session of Congress. Today, the U.S.-Poland partnership is expressed in many concrete ways, from the Warsaw Process to promote peace and security in the Middle East, to mutual defense cooperation, to strengthening commerce and trade links and enhancing energy security.

Fittingly, 2019 marks the centennial of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Poland and the United States. To celebrate this unique anniversary, a panel display presented by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland – “Poles and Americans: A Centennial of Friendship” – is on view in the Spotlight on Diplomacy corner at the National Museum of American Diplomacy. Showcasing a brief overview of both past and current diplomatic relations between our two countries, the display is viewable until October 4th, 2019, and is open to the public between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (visitors must pass through a security screening).

construction workers install glass case on Berlin Wall signature segment
Berlin Wall “Signature Segment” Case Installed
Berlin Wall “Signature Segment” Case Installed 1024 683

Over a two week period in early August, the “Signature Segment” of the Berlin Wall located in the Diplomacy Center’s Pavilion was enclosed in a custom-designed glass case. This important project, completed in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall, will ensure that this unique piece of the wall will be preserved and protected for visitors to enjoy for many years. 

The case features specialized museum-quality glass with exceptional clarity and anti-glare properties, which allows visitors an unobstructed view of the wall’s unique artwork and the collection of 27 signatures by leaders who played a role in the Berlin Wall’s downfall. The wall segment itself is inset into the floor and the case design includes glass panels surrounding the segment which allow visitors to see every part of the segment — including the six foot long concrete “foot” which extends from one side, parallel to the floor. Glass manufacturers based in Germany and Spain provided the custom panels needed to complete the project.  

In October, the new case will be joined by a permanent exhibition on the history of the Berlin Wall and the “Signature Segment” that will be installed adjacent to the wall on the lower level of the Pavilion. This exhibit is designed in conjunction with Smithsonian Exhibits.

Secretary Pompeo Commemorates anniversary of September 11, 2001
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Pompeo lays a wreath down by the flagIt’s been 18 years since the September 11 attacks left nearly 3,000 people dead in the worst act of terrorism the nation has ever experienced. Marking the 18th anniversary, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited the National Museum of American Diplomacy’s (NMAD) September 11 exhibit to remember those we lost on that tragic day, but to also highlight America’s resolve and the global outpouring of support for the United States following the attacks. After laying a wreath to honor the victims, Secretary Pompeo spoke about the Department of State’s unique role in working with our partners noting “September 11th also showed how many friends the U.S. has around the world.” 

The National Museum of American Diplomacy’s exhibit showcases America’s resolve including a brick retrieved from Osama Bin Laden’s compound, on loan from the CIA Museum. Secretary Pompeo, who is also the former Director of the CIA, remarked, “May we honor the victims through the defense of our homeland.”   After the attacks, U.S. embassies and consulates received condolence material such as personal mementos, letters, and drawings. Many of these items were shipped to the Department of State in Washington, and now are included in the collections of the NMAD. This condolence material represents an unwavering support for Americans in their time of need and a global repudiation of terrorism.

Specific examples from the collection include:

  • Students at Norwood School, Johannesburg, South Africa, sent a spiral bound booklet of colorful drawings and encouraging notes to the U.S. consulate.
  • Firefighters from the New South Wales Rural Fire Service offered a helmet with heartfelt inscriptions to the U.S. consulate in Sydney, Australia.
  • Schoolchildren in Japan created extensive chains of origami swans as symbols of peace.

House Resolution 786 (For the duration of the ceremony), signed in the wake of the Sept 11, 2012 attack on the US compound in Benghazi, Libya to honor the fallen and condemn the attackers.

Signed Copy of House Resolution 786

To honor the fallen and condemn the attackers, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 786.

Brick on a stand

Brick retrieved from Osama Bin Laden’s compound, on loan from the CIA Museum.

White empty new storage facility with racks
New collection storage facility completed
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The Diplomacy Center’s collection has a new home following completion of a custom designed 2,00  square foot museum storage space. This new space represents a significant upgrade in storage capacity, access, and preservation capabilities for the Center’s unique 8,500+ item collection —  and the only museum collection in the nation focused on preserving our diplomatic history.

Outfitted with specialized museum storage shelves and cabinets, the space provides roughly double the storage capacity that was available in the Center’s former facility. A fifty foot long compact storage system is a central component, which helps save floor space by placing shelves and cabinets on mobile carriages with aisles that can be opened or closed at the touch of a button.

The space also features independent climate control system, providing a stable temperature and relative humidity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A stable climate helps ensure the best possible conditions for long-term preservation of the priceless history the Center is entrusted with caring for and sharing with the public. 

The project to deliver this space unfolded over an approximately two year period and involved coordination between the State Department’s administration bureau, construction crews, diplomatic security, and the Center’s collections manager.

With the space completed, the Center’s curatorial staff is now moving the collection from its temporary location into its new home. The specialized features and increased capacity of this space will enable the Diplomacy Center to preserve, grow, and share its unique collection with the public — now and in the future. 

Chronicle of Freedom
Chronicle of Freedom 150 150

Original image of old newspaperThis original August 3, 1789 issue of The Independent Gazetteer or the Chronicle of Freedom provides notice of and complete text of the July 27, 1789 act establishing the Department of Foreign Affairs. This legislation enacted what is the core law for the Department of State today. The original Department of Foreign Affairs (with the name changed to Department of State the same year) originally had a staff of 5 people under the first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, who had just finished serving as United States minister to France. The original State Department was located in a building on Broadway in New York, before being moved to Philadelphia in 1790 and later to Washington DC. When President Washington appointed the first 17 US consular officers, the officials were Americans who happened to be engaged in trade in particular cities with no salaries provided by the government. The Gazetteer was published in Philadelphia from 1782-1790.

The National Museum of American Diplomacy Hosts a Teacher Resource Fair During the Global Teaching Dialogue
The National Museum of American Diplomacy Hosts a Teacher Resource Fair During the Global Teaching Dialogue 150 150

The National Museum of American Diplomacy hosted a teacher resource fair for participants in the Department of State’s annual Global Teaching Dialogue. Educators from around the world gathered to share experiences and collaborate on best practices in K-12 education.

Held on June 28, 2019, the fourth annual Global Teaching Dialogue welcomed educators and global education experts for a day-long event to share best practices in education strategies. Participants heard from U.S. Department of State officials and conducted workshops on integrating global standards in K-12 curriculum.

Associate Curator and Lavender Scare speaker sit on stage
The National Museum of American Diplomacy and glifaa Honor Pride Month with “The Lavender Scare” Screening
The National Museum of American Diplomacy and glifaa Honor Pride Month with “The Lavender Scare” Screening 1024 683

In honor of Pride Month in June, the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) partnered with glifaa (LGBT+ pride in foreign affairs agencies) to host a screening of the recently released documentary “The Lavender Scare” followed by a panel discussion and reception.

The film highlights the mass firings of gay and lesbian federal workers who were considered to be security risks because of their sexual orientation. Starting in the 1950s and continuing through the early 1990s, the risks were particularly acute at the Department of State, which gives the screening of this film added significance. 

NMAD Public Affairs Officer Reva Gupta provided opening remarks, sharing the importance of such public programming in telling the diverse story and challenges of diplomats. glifaa President Liz Lee noted in her remarks that it was significant, considering this not-too-distant history, that this documentary was screened at the Department of State. 

In a panel following the film, NMAD Associate Curator Katie Speckart, Liz Lee, and glifaa co-founder Jan Krc spoke about the creation of glifaa and how the era of the Lavender Scare will be presented in the museum. Mr. Krc also spoke about his personal saga of being fired from the Foreign Service in 1984 due to his homosexuality and his nearly ten-year legal battle to win back his job. He rejoined the Foreign Service in 1993 and retired in 2018.